In order of appearance:
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Roy CohnA successful New York lawyer and unofficial power broker, based on the real man of the same name. Like the real Cohn, Roy was Joseph McCarthy's right-hand man during the Red Scare, and a paragon of corrupt conservatism. At the end of act one, it is revealed that due to on-the-sly sexual encounters with numerous men (his own rampant homophobia aside), Roy has contracted HIV. Later on in the play, as the disease takes hold, Roy is haunted by the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg, a Soviet spy who received the death sentence thanks to Roy's determination, and illegal maneuvers.Ron Liebman originated the role of Roy et al on Broadway. Al Pacino played the role in the HBO Mini Series. Frank Wood played the role in the 2010 Off-Broadway revival.
Joseph Porter PittChief clerk for Justice Theodore Wilson of the Federal Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. He is a devout Mormon, who moved out to New York City with his wife Harper several years back. Roy has taken upon himself to be a sort of mentor to Joe. An encounter with a crying Louis in the men's room leads him to consciously realize that he is homosexual.David Marshall Grant originated the role of Joe et al on Broadway. Patrick Wilson played the role in the HBO Mini Series. Bill Heck played the role in the 2010 Off-Broadway revival.
Harper Amaty PittJoe's wife, an agoraphobic with a mild Valium addiction, which results in her random delusions and imaginary friends. She is very distant from her husband, and leaves him once she realizes he's gay.Marcia Gay Harden originated the role of Harper et al on Broadway. Mary-Louise Parker played the role in the HBO Mini Series. Zoe Kazan played the role in the 2010 Off-Broadway revival.
Louis IronsonA word processor working for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. He is very politically-minded, and very guilt-ridden. When his lover Prior is revealed to have HIV, Louis is unable to cope and leaves him.Joe Mantello originated the role of Louis et al on Broadway. Ben Shenkman played the role in the HBO Mini Series. Zachary Quinto played the role in the 2010 Off-Broadway revival.
Prior WalterLouis's boyfriend of four years. Occasionally works as a club designer or caterer, otherwise lives very modesty but with great style off a small trust fund. The most recent member of his family to bear the name "Prior Walter", a name which goes back centuries, as long as the family line itself. As the play opens, he discovers he is HIV-positive, and has developed a lesion on his chest. When his condition worsens, he is visited by The Angel.Stephen Spinella originated the role of Prior et al on Broadway. Justin Kirk played the role in the HBO Mini Series. Christian Borle played the role in the 2010 Off-Broadway revival.
Hannah Porter PittJoe's mother, currently residing in Salt Lake City, living off her deceased husband's army pension. She comes to New York City after Joe calls her in the middle of the night to tell her he's gay.Kathleen Chalfant originated the role Hannah et al on Broadway. Meryl Streep played the role in the HBO Mini Series. Robin Bartlett played the role in the 2010 Off-Broadway revival.
BelizeA former drag queen and former lover of Prior's. A registered nurse. Belize's name was originally Norman Arriaga; Belize is a drag name that stuck. When Roy Cohn is admitted to the hospital at the beginning of Perestroika, Belize becomes his nurse.Jeffrey Wright originated the role of Belize et al on Broadway, and reprised the role in the HBO Mini Series, winning a whole bunch of awards along the way. Billy Porter played the role in the 2010 Off-Broadway revival.
The Angel of AmericaFour divine emanations: Fluor, Phosphor, Lumen, and Candle, manifest in One; the Continental Principality of America. She has magnificent steel-grey wings. Well, that's how Kushner describes her anyway. Laconic version: she's an angel who appears to Prior in a vision dream thing and tells him that he is the Prophet, and that he must tell humankind to stop progressing as a species so that God will come back to Heaven. It's a Long Story. The Angel is also The Voice until the end of the first part Millenium Approaches, and fills the role of announcer throughout the play.Ellen McLaughlin originated the role of The Angel et al on Broadway. Emma Thompson played the role in the HBO Mini Series. Robin Weigart (who played the Mormon mother in the miniseries) played the role in the 2010 Off-Broadway revival.
Rabbi Isidor ChemelwitzAn orthodox Jewish rabbi, but a very unorthodox one as well. The play opens with him performing the funeral service for Louis's grandmother Sarah Ironson, during which he goes off on a semi-related tangent about the turn-of-the-century Jewish immigrants and their struggle. Played by the actor playing Hannah.
Mr. LiesHarper's imaginary friend, a travel agent, who in style of dress and speech suggests a jazz musician; he always wear a large lapel badge emblazoned "IOTA" (International Order of Travel Agents). Played by the actor playing Belize.
The Man in the ParkA leather-clad gay man in Central Park who Louis has awkward sex with. Played by the actor playing Prior.
HenryRoy's doctor, who informs him that he is HIV-positive. Played by the actor playing Hannah in the play, and by James Cromwell in the miniseries.
EmilyA nurse who attends to Prior. Played by the actor playing The Angel.
Martin HellerA Reagan Administration Justice Department flackman and toady to Roy. Played by the actor playing Harper.
Sister Ella ChapterA Salt Lake City real-estate saleswoman, and friend to Hannah. Played by the actor playing The Angel.
Prior Walter's First AncestorThe ghost of a dead Prior Walter from the 13th century. He is a blunt, gloomy medieval farmer with a guttural Yorkshire accent. He visits Prior to herald The Angel's arrival. Played by the actor playing Joe.
Prior Walter's Second AncestorThe ghost of a dead Prior Walter from the 17th century. He is a Londoner, sophisticated, with a High British accent. He visits Prior to herald the Angel's arrival. Played by the actor playing Roy.
The Woman in the South BronxA crazed homeless woman who Hannah foolishly tries to ask about how to get to the Mormon Visitor's Center. Played by the actor playing The Angel.
Ethel RosenbergA middle-aged Jewish woman from New York City who, along with her husband Julius, was charged with—and found guilty of—passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. Roy Cohn fought with all his connections to ensure that they did not get life in prison, but the death penalty. Based on the Real Life woman of the same name and same story. She appears to haunt Roy once his condition worsens.
Aleksii Antedilluvianovich PrelapsarianovThe World's Oldest Living Bolshevik, whose speech in the Kremlin opens part two Perestroika. Apart from his speech being thematically relevant to the overall piece, his scene is pretty much a mild Big-Lipped Alligator Moment. He is never mentioned again, and his scene has no relevance to the plot. Played by the actor playing Hannah.
The Mormon FamilyA "family" of mannequins in the Diorama Room of the Mormon's Visitor Center where Hannah volunteers. They are:
Mormon Father, who looks just like Joe, and (in Harper's delusions) turns out to be him.
Caleb, a son, voiced from offstage by the actor playing Belize.
Orr, another son, voice from offstage by the actor playing The Angel.
Mormon Mother, who comes to life and talks to Harper. Played by the actor playing The Angel.